This twisted version of a familiar favorite is too inconsistent to satisfy.

TEN FAT SAUSAGES

An irreverent take on a nursery rhyme.

“Ten fat sausages, sizzling in a pan,” starts off this rhyme, replicated in the frontmatter. It’s typically sung, useful when trying to keep young children entertained or teaching them to count down by twos. But when the story starts, while one sausage goes “POP,” the other doesn’t go the expected “BANG,” as each even-numbered sausage tries to make their escape, but “tries” is the operative word. One is somehow accidentally blendered along with an extremely concerned green bell pepper, another is eaten by a cat, and so on, until the two remaining sausages band together to make their escape. There’s plenty of humor here, mostly carried by Freeman’s expressively painted foodstuffs and blocky, realistic scenery—a vintage refrigerator, fast-whirling ceiling fan. Unfortunately, the jaunty rhythm of the original barely translates to picture-book form here, and too often unfortunate readers will have to wrench the scansion or ignore rhyming conventions (“sauce” attempting to rhyme with “course,” for example) in order to make it work for storytime. The ending is confusing as well; the sausages limp off outside, far from unscathed, but how they went from “one main course,” terrified on buns, to freedom remains a mystery.

This twisted version of a familiar favorite is too inconsistent to satisfy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9329-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A cozy read for bibliophiles.

SNOWMAN'S STORY

With echoes of “Frosty the Snowman” in the background, a snowman’s storybook within this wordless book delivers a comic wintertime romp.

Woodland creatures build a snowman, giving him a green book as a finishing touch. This addition comes right after a windswept top hat lands on his head, vivifying him à la Frosty. Hidden inside is a rabbit (it is a magic hat, after all); attentive readers will have seen the hat first on frontmatter pages and then with the bunny in the double-page spreads before the early ones devoted to the snowman’s construction. The snowman reads his book aloud to the animals, with the rabbit surreptitiously listening in, its ears poking out of the top of the hat. When the others all drift off to sleep, the bunny emerges and steals away with the book. A chase ensues across snowy terrain and through a series of pages (perhaps a few too many for good pacing) replete with comic-style panels. When the animals and snowman confront the rabbit in its tree-hollow home, its motivation for book thievery is revealed: This bunny has a family and wishes to share the story with its children. All’s well that ends well, and the animals convene (safely outside and away from the rabbit family’s crackling fireplace) to read together.

A cozy read for bibliophiles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4787-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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